Flash sale sites like RueLaLa or Gilt Groupe make it sound like you’re getting the best deal out there, but sometimes you aren’t. Their customer value propositions are that items are scarce and you need to buy fast if you want it (and probably can’t get it anywhere else).

Today I was super excited that one of my favorite designers, Leifsdottir, was going to be on Gilt Groupe. I went to the sale page right at 12 noon and started laughing when I saw a sweater I bought 2 months ago for $64 right on the designers website that was on “sale” for $99 on Gilt. I went over to the Leifsdottir site, thinking that maybe it wasn’t available anymore, but sure enough, it still is and is still $64!

Then I noticed a few other items that were also on the designers site and Gilt, everything cheaper on Leifsdottir.com. I tweeted Gilt about the matter and they replied with:

GiltSupport@lottieeb While we offer great prices on items we don’t always guarantee it’s the lowest out there. We want you to get a deal, so go for it!

Then, they tweeted me this:

GiltSupport@lottieeb Prices r made in correlation2 the designer& if they have clearance on their site we dont know We encourage u 2 purchase from them!

So basically they are using the flash sale to make consumers think that if you don’t buy fast you’ll lose your chance to get an item, but that’s not always the case. Though they don’t “guarantee” the best price, they sure have tried to make their marketing messages imply otherwise. And, they don’t do any market research to see if the designer has the items sold for less? That’s just bad business and poor strategy on their part, first rule of pricing policy guys (any econ professor can tell you that!). Clearly they bought it for a lot less than $99, that said, smart partnership for Leifsdottir who might have made more on the Gilt Sale than on their own site. Bottom line – before you rush to buy at a flash sale, do a little pricing research!